Governor Terry Branstad took final action today on 30 bills, ending his review of all the legislation that cleared the 2016 Iowa General Assembly.
Branstad has approved a new state requirement that Iowa teenagers get the meningitis vaccination before enrolling in school. Iowa students will have to show they’ve been vaccinated against meningitis before they can enroll in the 7th and 12th grades.
Branstad said he visited with medical experts and people who have had relatives die of meningitis and became “convinced” this new requirement “will save lives.” As with all required vaccinations, though, Iowa parents may seek an exemption due to religious or medical reasons.
The meningitis vaccination requirement was included in a massive budget bill that also outlined a series of new oversight measures for the state-run Medicaid program. Critics in the legislature said the new steps were necessary after Branstad ordered the half a million Iowa Medicaid patients into privately-run “managed care” plans. Branstad said he was “proud” to approve “every one” of the new oversight measures. According to Branstad, it will make Iowa’s Medicaid system “one of the most transparent, accountable and outcome focused” programs in the country.
Many of the bills Branstad took action on today outlined spending plans for state agencies. In an unprecedented move, Branstad did not use his authority to item veto any individual spending proposals. It means the 12-month spending outline legislators drafted remains intact and will go into effect July 1.
Branstad did reject the legislature’s proposed study of charging a “park user fee” for visitors at state-owned parks and recreation areas. Park user fees were charged briefly in the 1980s, during Branstad’s first run as governor, and Branstad said in a written veto message that state officials discovered Iowans “greatly disliked” the fees.